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Analysis of As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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The novel “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner follows a family who is on a journey to bury their recently deceased mother, in the nearby town of Jefferson. The novel is told from the perspective of monologues, told by each of the characters encountered throughout the story. Specifically, Darl Bundren seems to be the protagonist character in this novel. Darl is the second oldest of the Bundren children and seems to be isolated from the rest of the family. As the novella progresses the reader is made aware of changes in Darl’s attitude and also the reasons for why he may be changing this particular way. Darl is misunderstood by his family and by the other characters around him.

Darl Bundren loves his mother Addie Bundren, and it is apparent that the death of her creates internal turmoil for Darl. It isn’t necessarily the death of Addie that brings stress to Darl, but it is the death that makes Darl come to a realization that Addie favored her son Jewel over the rest of the Bundren children, including himself. In a section of the novel where Cora Tull is having a conversation with Addie, she recalls Addie referring to Jewel as “My cross and he will be my salvation. He will save me from the water and from the fire” (1755). Darl is a very intelligent character who tends to stay hushed throughout the novel and just observes and understands the environment around him. His intelligence and quiet behavior lead him to thinking to himself more and dwelling on such thoughts like Jewel being the favorite son. These tears Darl up inside, creating a stress on Darl which eventually transforms Darl into a cruel older brother to Jewel.

Consequently Darl already has his suspicions of Jewel and whether or not he is truly his broth...

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...reason for Darl’s ability to have this “sixth sense” is because Darl could be used as the voice of the author William Faulkner as a way to describe the most detail to the reader about the Bundren household.

It is clear to the reader that Darl’s attitudes and the reasons behind his actions change in throughout the novella. Darl is a powerful character, and is very intelligent, which also leads to a flaw of his. He acts in a particular way but as we digress into the mind of Darl we can see that he may be acting in a certain way not only because he is insane. Darl is under a great amount of stress with the passing of his mother, dealing with a dysfunctional family, or his potential shell shock from being in the war.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. "As I Lay Dying." American Literature between the Wars 1914-1945. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003. 1693-790. Print.
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